MLSE community food donation program expands to include BMO Field and BMO as partners team up to help ‘bring Toronto back to its feet’
MLSE’s meal donation program will reach 100,000 meals produced later this week, and to accommodate the overwhelming support and donations to date, the program has been expanded to include the use of BMO Field, and the addition of BMO as a lead partner, to maximize its impact in the community.
With the additional resources, the “Bringing Toronto Back To Its Feet” program, designed to thank and support Toronto’s frontline health workers, their families, and local community agencies, will be able to expand beyond their original production goal of 10,000 meals per day to now produce up to 13,000 meals per day.
“MLSE and our teams are always proud to represent Toronto, inspire our citizens, and serve our community, but that is especially true in challenging times,” said Larry Tanenbaum, Chairman of MLSE. “We are extremely proud of our organization and our employees who had a hand in bringing this program to life and grateful to the many partners who were so quick to lend their support. We all look forward to the day when we can return to hosting and entertaining our fans, but until then, we are focused on doing everything we can to help our community recover from this difficult period.”
MLSE will use BMO Field’s numerous food preparation facilities to prepare and assemble the additional meal packages. MLSE’s chefs and food and beverage staff, along with employees from different departments within the company, have been working together on this program as the company’s sports and entertainment operations are halted due to the pandemic.
“We’re extremely proud to help expand this successful program to support front-line health workers and Second Harvest, who provide meals to the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Darryl White, CEO, BMO Financial Group. “BMO is here to boldly grow the good in business and life, and that inspires the actions we’re taking to fight this pandemic. We’ll continue to look for opportunities like this with our partners to grow the good in our communities.”
BMO Field’s facilities are a valuable addition to the program and its aim to reach a new goal of producing up to 13,000 meals per day. BMO joins the previously announced founding partners of the community outreach effort in MLSE, Scotiabank, Tangerine Bank, Bell Canada, and Rogers Communications.
“There has been an outpouring of support in response to this initiative and it has further demonstrated the united and generous spirit of Toronto,” said Michael Friisdahl, President and CEO of MLSE. “The addition of the facilities at BMO Field, and the support of BMO as a partner, will help us grow this program beyond what we had first envisioned and provide even more support to the community where and when it is needed most. We are very appreciative to everyone who has played a role in making this program possible, but we are especially grateful for the generosity of MLSE’s ownership, the commitment of our employees, and the support of our corporate and community partners. This is an example of Toronto at its best.”
“I want to thank BMO for joining MLSE’s food donation program which will help feed families across our city. The expansion of this program to include BMO Field shows this truly is a growing team effort to support people during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor John Tory. “Businesses in Toronto have stepped up throughout this crisis to help the community – it’s the Toronto way – and I want to thank MLSE, and all of its corporate partners for demonstrating that Toronto spirit through their involvement in this impactful initiative.”
Since the announcement of the program, MLSE has also received more donations than anticipated from the community to support with logistics, including delivery, food or financial donations, and assistance from volunteers.
In the first two weeks of operation, the MLSE culinary team’s meal production has included almost 25,000 pounds of chicken, 15,000 pounds of potatoes, 10,000 pounds of mixed vegetables and 8,000 pounds of pasta. Second Harvest, the largest food rescue organization in Canada, along with a network of local suppliers and sponsors, are supplying fresh ingredients daily to the MLSE team. The chefs are then turning those food supplies, along with other food purchased or donated to the program, into fresh, nutritious, ready-to-heat single-serving meals suitable for a variety of dietary needs. Meals are then labelled before being readied for delivery five days a week. The program is expected to prepare and deliver hundreds of thousands of meals over the coming weeks for a growing network of hospitals and community agencies.
“To limit the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining social distancing, it’s essential that community food programs now provide takeaway meals to an increasing number of people in need. Unfortunately, many of the organizations Second Harvest supports do not have the kitchens or money necessary to do that– and that gap puts thousands of vulnerable people at risk,” said Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest. “We are incredibly grateful to MLSE and its partners for helping us close that gap by mobilizing its world-class venue and chefs, and for the generosity of so many food donors that are enabling us to provide thousands of meals every week. We are determined that no one be left behind.”
MLSE worked with food hygiene experts and Toronto Public Health during the development of the program to ensure the safety of the meals and of the people who are working to prepare them.